Multifuel stoves are fast becoming the new trend. With Gas and Electric prices’ shooting up it is the new alternative source of heat. There are many makes and models and this is fast becoming a very competitive market. A good multifuel stove consists of a steel or cast iron body with usually cast iron doors. A Steel stove will heat up quicker but cool down faster. Cast iron will take longer to heat up but will retain the heat for a while after the fire has gone out. You will generally need more room around it for the air to circulate than a steel stove would, if there is limited circulation around a cast iron stove it could crack. There is an airwash to keep the glass clean, which is usually a top slider or spinner. This works by bringing air into the stove and drawing it in front of the glass to prevent the smoke blacking it up. The primary air supply is usually at the bottom and again is a slider or a spinner. This is usually left open whilst you are lighting your fire as you need to give it plenty of air to get it going. Once the fire is established then you can start to turn the fire down and just leave it ticking over nicely. Most small fires will burn for 2 - 4 hours on wood depending on hardwood or softwood and how well it is seasoned. It will burn longer on smokeless fuel between 6 - 12 hours, depending on the load size and fuel quality. A few models have a tertiary air supply which makes the stove much more efficient as it burns off any excessive gasses in the stove so there fewer emissions out of the chimney. A lot of areas are now smoke exempt. You will need to contact your local council to check if you are in a smoke controlled area; if you are and you want to burn wood then you will need to buy an approved stove. If you are not bothered about burning wood then you need to burn a smokeless fuel. There are plenty available now from your local coal man who will deliver fuel to you. Over the last few years many modifications have been made to multifuel stoves making them easier to use, more modern and ultimately much more efficient. Multifuel stoves come complete with ash pan and grate. Some have superior external riddling grates and some are pretty basic or don't riddle at all.
Wood burning stoves are carbon neutral; it only gives off as much carbon as the wood has taken in while it has been growing. There are many different types of wood you can burn. Most need at least two winters outside to the elements and then six months under cover where the wind can still get in but the rain can't to dry out. Wood that is seasoned correctly will give no smoke emissions out of the chimney, making it better for the environment. Hardwoods take longer to season up to three to four years. Ash can be burnt as soon as it is felled. Stoves that are wood burning only don't usually come with a grate or ash pan. This is because wood burns best in its own ash and burns from the top down, With smokeless coal you need a grate to get air under the coal to make it burn.
If you have a chimney with a stack and a pot fitting of a stove is pretty straight forward, this has to be carried out by a Hetas registered engineer. You will need to get your chimney swept and tested; if you chimney fails a smoke test then it will need to be lined before a stove is fitted. There are two main types of liner, 316 grade which comes with a ten year guarantee and 904 grade which comes with a 25 year guarantee. If the stove is fitted by a non registered engineer you will need to contact the building inspector from your local council to check it has been fitted to manufacturers instructions and issue a certificate of compliance, however this can be pretty expensive. Stoves that are not fitted by Hetas registered engineers or passed by the building inspector will not be covered under the manufacturers guarantee.
If you don't have a chimney you can use a prefabricated chimney in most cases. This is usually twin wall insulated flue; this is much cheaper that building a new chimney and will probably last the life of the stove providing you are burning the recommended fuels, and have it swept on a regular basis. Alternatively you can build a chimney and line it with pumice or terracotta liners. You will need to contact your local council for building regulations and in some cases planning permission.
A lot of wood burning and multifuel stoves can now run central heating or domestic hot water boilers. They can be linked into existing systems. If you have an open vent system they can be linked by a Dunsley Neutraliser, if you have a pressurised system (combi boiler) this can be linked through a Thermal storage unit but this can be expensive and requires somewhere to site the cylinder. Once you have felt the warmth and comfort a real fire gives you will be impressed. Wood burning and multifuel stoves are a sealed unit so they don't burn as much fuel as an open fire and are about three times more efficient. This is because with an open fire you have all the heat going up the chimney and it is constantly pulling cold air from into the room. With a sealed appliance the only air that it gets is what you give it through the air controls which enable the heat to build up and come out into the room. Most stoves need 2" of space at the back, 6" at each side and 12" of hearth in front, the hearth needs to be 2" thick of non combustible material. The stove and pipe also need to be 18" away from anything combustible, these are the current building regulations in England; however manufacturer's instructions override building regulations so if it states you need more room in the installation instructions you should have more room. If you are unsure when purchasing a stove you need to go to a reputable dealer who is well established and Hetas registered to ensure you get all the correct information.
A real fire cannot be beaten it is a different kind of warmth that seems to spread around the house not just in the room where the fire is. When purchasing a fire you need to make sure you get the correct size for the room that it is going in. your local dealer will be able to help you with this if you have your room sizes, height of ceilings and approximate age of property. They will also be able to advise you on materials to use around your fire and all current building regulations regarding multifuel and wood burning stoves. Most companies now offer free site surveys to check suitability of installation and have engineers who can knock out fireplace openings and lay hearths etc.
Shirley Steed is the owner of D Roberts Heating - A company that specializes in Wood, Solid Fuel and Multi Fuel Stoves . Please visit the website for more details.